A/N: Wow! Thank you for all the positive reviews! When I first started rewriting this, I figured it definitely would not achieve the same positive response as the original, but so far so good!
Apologies for the major delay in updating; life in the last two years has been CRAZY! Between three different job switches, getting engaged, attending/being part of five weddings, getting laid off, job hunting, mission's trips and more, I've been so far behind on EVERYTHING. But finally, an update!
My goal is to update this from now on at least every other week. Thanks for everyone's support so far!
Chapter Five – Oh, What a Good Cup of Coffee Can Do
Tabs led Bernard down the hallway, towards the E.L.F.S. room. The earlier hustle and bustle of everything was calming down, and the girl assumed everyone was taking the opportunity to rest after the craziness.
"You can fly those jet pack thingers right?" she asked, walking straight to the doors.
Bernard pulled the girl to a stop and frowned. "Well yeah, but we only use them for emergency situations. E.L.F.S. equipment is very difficult to keep up, and not supposed to be used on a whim."
Tabs snorted. "Well, this is a whim, but it's also an emergency… technically… so, we're gonna go in there, and you're going to hook up a jet pack, and the two of us are getting out of here." She pulled away from Bernard's grip, and pulled open the big doors that led into the room.
She discovered that another thing the movies did was make the doors look like they were far lighter than they actually were. It took throwing her whole body-weight into it to pull open the doors, completely disrupting the dramatic entrance she had hoped for into the room.
Unlike the rest of Santa's workshop, the E.L.F.S. room actually looked very normal. Rather than being filled with extravagant colours and decorations, it instead was set up much like any military room would be. This fact alone gave Tabs reason to start meditating on if there was more to Christmas Elves than what they made kids believe in the movies. Still… she could try to figure that out later. For now, she had a depressed elf and a mission to cheer him up to worry about.
They walked into the room, and Bernard went straight to the Jet Pack cabinet, not wanting to attempt arguing with the short blonde. He wouldn't admit it, but he was really interested in seeing what she had in mind.
"So where are we going?" he asked as he began to check all the dials and wires to make sure everything was set and ready to go.
"It's a surprise." She was slowly turning in circles eyeing the lockers with a contemplative look on her face.
"What are you doing?"
"I'm trying to figure out which locker would have a jacket big enough for me in it." She began bouncing her finger along the lockers as she walked and muttering something about catching a tiger by it's toe.
"You could have just asked me you know. I do have multiple jackets." Bernard pointed out.
"But where the fun in that?" she asked as she pulled a hairpin out of her hair, smiled innocently, then picked the lock.
Bernard looked at her, raising an eyebrow at the mischievous grin that was spread across her face as she pulled out a coat and tried it on. "Where did you learn to do that?"
Tabs shrugged. "Movies?"
Bernard snorted. "Somehow, I don't feel inclined to believe it."
The coat, much to Tabs' pleasure, fit her just right. Apparently, her random picking had done her well. She walked over to Bernard, and reached over to take the jetpack from him.
Bernard laughed and swung it over his own shoulder. "You think I'd trust YOU with this?"
Tabs pouted but didn't respond. Secretly, she was thrilled, as it meant that Bernard would have to hold onto her, whether it be her hand, or around her waist. It was the kind of thing that every fangirl would want to happen, though Tabs realized it would be very dumb to make Bernard aware of that fact.
"So where are we going?" Bernard inquired as he fastened the buckles and pressed his watch to open the smaller departure hatch directly within the locker room.
"New York, New York," Tabs grinned. "Just touch down somewhere near Central Park, and we'll walk from there."
"You want to land in Central Park at NIGHT?" Bernard looked at the human as if she was nuts.
"I didn't say at, I said near," she reiterated, rolling her eyes.
"Near is kind of… general. Can you be more specific?"
Tabs stopped and contemplated for a moment. "Hmm, that is true… well, how about the entrance near Trump Tower?"
"And I'm supposed to know where that is?"
"Considering you take care of all of Santa's stuff, I'd think you would."
Bernard shrugged. "Perhaps. Except that you're forgetting one important detail."
"Which is what exactly?"
"Donald Trump stopped getting presents from Santa over fifty years ago. I don't keep track of all his residences, or anything to do with him nowadays."
"Well… do you at least know where that big statue is at Central Park?"
"That I do know," Bernard confirmed.
"Okay, there works."
And with that, they were off. Tabs had however, forgotten to divulge one important detail about flying on the jet packs: she was PETRIFIED of heights.
As they climbed higher into the sky, her facial expression went from one of bold determination, quickly to being extremely terrified, on the verge of tears, and whiter than a sheet.
Bernard took no notice until Tabs, unable to contain her fear any longer, pulled Bernard towards her and latched herself to him.
"Uhh… I'm really flattered and all," Bernard began, "but we did just meet."
Tabs responded by bursting out in tears.
"Whoa… I didn't mean it in a bad way… I mean, you're cute and all, and seem to be pretty cool, but uhm…" he rambled, feeling his cheeks grow hot. He knew he must be blushing from the neck up, but couldn't stop it. He was confused and slightly embarrassed.
"It's-not-you, you idiot," Tabs choked out. "I'm petrified of heeeiiiggghhhhts."
For the first time that evening, Bernard burst out laughing. "You're afraid of heights?"
Tabs stopped her crying to glare up at him. "Not afraid. Petrified. And it's not funny."
Still laughing, Bernard shook his head slowly. "So, being terrified of heights, you decided to bully me into taking a jet pack, to fly over the world?" He grabbed her hands that were clenched into his chest and slowly eased them off. "You're going to be okay," he said softly. "Nothing will happen to you so long as I'm holding your hand."
Tabs sniffed and let him move her to the side, but kept a white knuckled grip around his left hand.
Bernard had to admit to himself that it felt kind of nice to have that sort of close contact, if even for a minute. It had been well over two hundred years since he had even thought of the possibility of a relationship. Not that he was thinking of one now, he quickly told himself, pushing the thought aside.
"So tell me a little about yourself," he asked, trying to keep her mind off the whole heights thing.
She took a deep breath, trying to calm herself. "Well, I'm from a small town in Southern Ontario, called Orange Grove. I've lived there all my life…"
The rest of the journey took another fifteen minutes, and Bernard listened intently as the blonde told her life story. He had to admit, he was impressed with the strength the girl had, after hearing some of the things she and her family had been through. Death, it seemed, hounded the family's doorstep. Bernard couldn't help but wonder, after hearing all that, whether or not the girl's bubbly personality and optimistic attitude was a mask, or if she had genuinely walked away from everything with such a positive outlook.
They landed just outside Central Park, which was still lit up and glowing with lights.
"The City that Never Sleeps," Tabs said breathlessly, looking around in wonder. "It's so beautiful."
"Have you ever been here before?" Bernard asked, shrugging off the jetpack and pressing a small button on its side that caused it to shrink to a pocket-sized storage device.
"Never. I've always wanted to though. There's something about the place that has always drawn me to it."
Bernard blinked. "So wait. You brought me somewhere you've never been? I thought you had a plan!"
She looked up at him and grinned again. "I do! That plan is called ADVENTURING!"
Bernard shook his head slowly, but couldn't help from smiling slightly. "You do realize it's after midnight right? Most places will be closed."
Tabs grabbed his hand and started walking forward, dragging him along. "Like I said, this is the city that never sleeps; there is bound to be SOMETHING open!"
They walked around the city at the edge of the park for a while, in silence for the most part. Bernard had to admit, as little time as he spent in the populated parts of this world, there was a strange beauty and a sense of serenity that hung over their cities.
"Aha! There we are!" Tabs exclaimed, shaking Bernard from his thoughts.
He followed her gaze across the street to a small coffee shop with an open sign flashing in the window. It looked like a quaint little place, and Bernard allowed Tabs to drag him across the street.
"What is it with you humans and coffee?" he asked.
Tabs shrugged. "It's wonderful, it's warm, and it's energizing. Plus, it tastes amazing."
"Yeah, but hot chocolate is the same," Bernard pointed out.
"Maybe for elves, but hot chocolate doesn't really give me energy. That's what coffee is for."
Bernard finally pulled his hand out of the blonde's to hold open the door for her. He gave her a kind of lopsided grin as they entered the shop.
"Well, that explains all your energy," Bernard chuckled.
"Nah, I haven't had a coffee in a few days, this is just me normally."
Bernard paused for a moment, wondering if he would be able to handle the girl on caffeine high if this was her normally.
"Merry Christmas," the man behind the counter said glumly as the two approached. His expression and unenthusiastic response made it clear the man was not happy to be working.
Tabs suddenly felt a little bad for coming there on Christmas night.
"What can I get you?" The barista asked, looking between the two patrons.
"I'll have a large hot chocolate," Bernard ordered, "With extra whip-cream please."
He heard a small snort escape from Tabs and looked over.
"You are worried about me drinking coffee, and you're about to have a large hot chocolate in the middle of the night?"
Bernard just shrugged in response.
Shaking her head, Tabs looked at the Barista who had begun tapping his feet impatiently. "Caramel Dulce Latte, medium please, soya milk, with whipped cream," she rattled off.
"Order that much?" Bernard teased.
"All the time."
Tabs paid for their drinks and left the man a ten-dollar tip, hoping it would cheer him up a bit. They picked a table in the back corner of the café and sat down. They sat quietly for a few minutes, each enjoying their drinks. Tabs was doing all she could to stop herself from staring fangirlishly at the elf in front of her, which was a huge feat considering she had been smitten by this elf for years.
"So, what was the point of this?" Bernard asked, looking around the quiet coffee shop. He wasn't really sure where he had expected Tabs to take him, but he had expected something louder, like a nightclub, or somewhere full of people. He hadn't pictured her as the quiet, coffee shop type.
"The point, my dear Bernard, was to get you out of the North Pole and somewhere a little more relaxing," she explained, taking off the jacket and pulling up one of her knees so that she was hugging her leg as she settled into the chair. "Coffee shops are my favourite places to go and unwind… although usually, with a book or a notebook."
"I'm sorry, but I really can't picture you being the type hidden away in a coffee shop with your nose in a book," Bernard admitted, hoping he wouldn't offend her.
Tabs shrugged. "Believe it or not, I'm actually a huge bookworm and a writer. I prefer the solitude of being alone in a coffee shop to being around a large group of people."
This also surprised Bernard. From the little amount that he had seen and spent with Tabs, she struck him as the kind of person that was a social butterfly and preferred lots of friends to being alone. He would never, in a million years have pegged her as someone, well, someone more like him, more of an introvert.
"I'm actually quite socially awkward," she admitted shyly, taking a sip from her latte. "That's part of why I love reading and writing so much – I don't have to worry about the impression I make on the characters."
Bernard nodded. "Well, this might sound strange as well, but despite being Head Elf, I'm kind of socially awkward as well."
"I kind of guessed that one already."
"It's hard, being Head Elf. I think I had more social skills before I got the position. Don't get me wrong, I have friends – Judy has been my friend for over 300 years, and Quentin and I share a good laugh now and again. It's just hard, to be their boss, and their friend."
Tabs listened intently, sipping away at her coffee but not saying a word. Bernard was slightly surprised at how easy it was to talk to her, and at how easily he began to unload all his burdens. He hadn't wanted to pour his problems out, but it was like verbal diarrhea – once he started, it just wouldn't stop.
"And then there's this whole Santa thing. I mean, you would think someone would be thrilled to be Santa Claus. Sure, there's that whole adjustment period for adults to believe, but never has a Santa been THIS un-accepting!" He stopped and flushed slightly. "Sorry… I've been whining for over an hour now."
Smiling, Tabs shook her head. "Don't apologize – this was the point of getting you away, to let it all out."
Bernard smiled sheepishly at her. "I don't think I've ranted like that in… well, ever."
"You know… this may be why you have such rage issues, you bottling it all up and everything."
"What are you a counselor now?"
Tabs shrugged. "I can be whatever you want me to be." Realizing exactly how that sounded, she stammered. "Uhm, uhh. Well, you know what I mean."
Bernard laughed. "Just, can you tell me one thing? This Scott Calvin… do things get any better with him?"
"If they happen like in my movies, yes."
He breathed a soft sigh of relief, then reached across the table and squeezed Tabs' hand slightly. "Thank you for this."
"You're welcome." Tabs glanced at the clock. "Wow… it's after three already. Should we get back?"
Bernard smiled. "If you are still awake enough, how about a little walk through the park? I think I have enough magic to shield us for about an hour."
Tabs clasped her hands together excitedly. "Really? Oh my gosh that would be amazing!"
He nodded and stood to his feet, then held out his arm. "Shall we?"
Without a moment of hesitation, Tabs leapt to her feet and slipped her arm through his. They bade the barista goodnight and made their way back out into the cold.
Bernard made an adjustment to his watch and flashed Tabs a lopsided grin. Gold flecks and sparkles began to swirl around the two of them, creating a warm breeze. After a few minutes the flecks and sparkles faded, and they walked into the park, chatting away.